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Sarah L. Szanton, PhD, MSN, RN

Patricia M. Davidson Professorship for Health Equity and Social Justice
Director, Center for Innovative Care in Aging
Sarah Szanton
View Full CV

Specialties and Expertise

  • Aging
  • Chronic Care
  • Community
  • Community / Public Health
  • Disparities
  • Family
  • Gerontological / Geriatric
  • Gerontology
  • Interprofessional
  • Loneliness
  • Pain/Symptom Management
  • Social Determinants of Health/Poverty


A number of years ago, while making house calls as a nurse practitioner to homebound, low-income elderly patients in West Baltimore, Sarah Szanton noticed that their environmental challenges were often as pressing as their health challenges. Since then she has developed a program of research at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing on the role of the environment and stressors in health disparities in older adults, particularly those trying to “age in place” or stay out of a nursing home. The result is a program called CAPABLE, which combines handyman services with nursing and occupational therapy to improve mobility, reduce disability, and decrease healthcare costs. She has tested the program's effectiveness through grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Innovations Office at the Center on Medicaid and Medicare Services. She has major funding from the Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation to build infrastructure for the CAPABLE program. She has also conducting a study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, of whether food and energy assistance improve health outcomes for low-income older adults. A former health policy advocate, Dr. Szanton aims her research and publications toward changing policy for older adults and their families.

Additional Resources

Below are selected resources. For more information, please see full CV.

  • Videos





  • Publications/Research

    Szanton, S.L., Xue, Q., Leff, B., Guralnik, J., Wolff, J.L., Tanner, E.K., Boyd, C.M., Thorpe, R.J., Bishai, D., Gitlin, L.N., (2019). Reducing Disability Through a Bio-Behavioral Environmental Approach: Results from a Randomized Clinical Trial. (Epub ahead of print.) JAMA Internal Medicine. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.6026

    Szanton, S.L., Clemson, L., Liu, M., Gitlin, L. N., Hladek, M. D., LaFave, S. E., Roth, D. L., Marx, K. A., Felix, C., Okoye, S. M., Zhang, X., Bautista, S., Granbom, M. (2020). Pilot Outcomes of a Multicomponent Fall Risk Program Integrated Into Daily Lives of Community-Dwelling Older Adults. Journal of Applied Gerontology. doi: 1177/0733464820912664

    *Szanton, S.L., Alfonso, N., Leff, B.A. Guralnik, J., Wolff, J.L., Stockwell, I., Gitlin, L.N., Bishai, D. (2017). Medicaid Cost Savings of CAPABLE, a Person-directed Program for Low-income Older Adults with Disability. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. doi: 10.1111/jgs.15143

    *Szanton, S.L., Samuel. L.J., Cahill, R., Zielinskie, G. Wolff, J.L., Thorpe, R.J. Jr., Betley (2017). Food Assistance Is Associated with Decreased Nursing Home Admissions for Maryland’s Dually Eligible Older Adults. BMC Geriatrics.

    Samuel. L.J., Szanton, S.L., Cahill, R., Zielinskie, G. Wolff, J.L., Jr., Betley (2017). Food Assistance Is Associated with Decreased Hospitalizations for Maryland’s Dually Eligible Older Adults. Population Health.

  • Awards/Honors

    2019  Human Condition, Heinz Foundation

    2019  Sigma Theta Tau, International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame

    2017  Edgerunner Award, American Academy of Nursing

    2016  Senior Service America Senior Scholar Award for Research Related to Disadvantaged Older Adults—Gerontological Society of America and Senior Service America, Inc.

    2016  Top 50 “Influencers in Aging”—Next Avenue

    2015  Baltimore Business Journal Health Care Innovator award

    2015  Fellow, Gerontological Society of America

    2015  Visiting Fellow, University of Sydney, Australia, June 28-July 5, 2015

    2015  Emerging Edgerunner Award—American Academy of Nursing

    2014  Co-recipient of Protégé Award—Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research